blogging
Local Branding

Pro Tips For Growing A Bigger and Better, Blogger List

Regardless of the industry you are in, creating and maintaining a blog list is part of your world. If it is not part of your world, you are a little behind, since now literally everyone can work on cloud. Having a blog is step one to introducing yourself, your business, and your services as your brand. It is not just important that you do it, it is critical that you do it well. You have to do it “like a boss”. In this article, you will find pro tips from some of the best wedding expert vendors in the world.

Enlighten people

People are always shocked when they discover what goes on behind the scenes of any trade. This is especially true for professionals who work in the wedding industry. People rarely know the options available to them and the steps to take to make things happen. Enlightening people through the strength of their blog is a powerful way to share the knowledge.

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  • Marcia Hanscome and Barbara Miller, owners of Vacation Rentals of North Myrtle Beach explain. “Keeping a close eye on current trends and upcoming events in the area and writing about it is our strategy with growing our mailing list. Although promoting our own property management business is very important, we believe promoting outside activities and events in the area where families vacation is just as important. Our mission, here at Vacation Rentals of North Myrtle Beach, is to be the “go to” blog site where people go to see what’s going on in the Myrtle Beach area. And as our way of saying thank you to our readers, we attach a rental special to each and every one of our blog articles. So, we believe because of this strategy, growing our list comes very easy for us.”
  • Michael Solomon, Founder of 10x Management offers this: “We pick topics related to technology that we know inside and out because we only want to write about what we know. We are experts in facilitating freelance tech work for major companies and startups alike, so we tailor our content to the growing demand for freelance work in the modern economy. We write about subjects that are topical, engaging and ones that we can ideally form an opinion on. We also like to link our content to great articles that are already out there. We place our content on a select few outlets and the growth has been steady.”
  • Kaitlan Whitteberry, Social Media Manager, and Tiffany Rivers, Director of Marketing of iOFFICE, Inc. offer this. “We have found that while understanding your audience is the ultimate key to success, ensuring the conversation revolves around them shifts the focus back where it belongs. Your job as a blogger is to enlighten your audience with information they haven’t been previously exposed to, but also to ask what they want to learn. You should want to be their ultimate guide. Where they look first when seeking information. If you start by focusing on providing relevant content, that speaks to their needs – your list will grow itself.”
  • Teresa Matich, Copywriter at Clio, says: “When growing an email list, we’ve found it’s most important to keep quality top of mind. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel—we get the best results by consistently delivering quality, on-topic content, as this respects list members by staying in line with what they expect to find. Flooding their inbox with mediocre content simply doesn’t work. Whatever other tactics you use to grow your email list, always put the quality of your content first.”
  • Dana Baardsen is the founder of Agile Trend Media. She shares with us her unique strategy for DynaPro Direct and lets in on her insight: “Growing a brand’s blog is fun, and if it’s not, you’re not doing it right. It’s crucial to be savvy with SEO, feature catchy (not click-bait) headlines, and provide serviceable and accurate information regularly — but it’s even more important to ditch your personal itch to micromanage every piece of content. Here’s why: By allocating energy to public relations and opening up your site to editorial collaborations, you’ll feed new energy into an otherwise one-sided stream of content. What happens when you schedule collaborative blog content regularly? An increase in engagement, views, shares, likes, sales, and fun!”

Entertain, educate, and give useful tips

Blogging is unlike any other form of communication. The reader does not want to read an instruction book, nor do they want to feel as if the writer does not “get them”. They want to laugh, be inspired, and shake their head in agreement with the author. They want to hear little tips and bits of information that make their lives easier.

blogging

  • Aaron Zapata of Impactprop.com shares: “My best strategy for growing my list has been two-fold) Whenever possible, my content is very personal and I share personal experiences through storytelling. I want people to know me, my struggles, and my successes and find that people come back for more when they find my site. When people want more, they are willing to subscribe. Offer free useful downloads in exchange for an email address. This is a strategy used by most bloggers so it’s not unique but it definitely works.”
  • Karen Cruz of Cloudbric firmly agrees with this approach. She said: “Cybersecurity is a daunting topic for many, but Cloudbric was developed precisely because we want to make a crucial and necessary topic accessible to many. We try to put ourselves in the shoes of our readers by breaking down the jargon and using fun analogies and by incorporating a good mix of informative, technical, and “fun” content. Additionally, we use marketing automation software to see what readers enjoy and don’t, optimizing our content each time to make sure that we’re staying on top of trending topics in the IT security industry.”
  • Emily Jo Jerue of Tuleburg.co explains further: There is no real tip or secret to growing a list from a blog. That is to say, quality writing is key. People respond emotionally to the content. You could be a really solid writer but fail to entertain. Conversely, you could compose a superfluous story but fail to inform your audience. My best advice is to have a mix between entertaining and informing. The most successful blog writers make you laugh and make you think. I have found that if I can make fun of relatable business situations while offering serious alternatives to a problem, I gain more readers.

Quality Content

Mark Monchek of The Opportunity Lab tells us: “Make your content match your values. As a consulting firm, content development can seem forced and insincere. However, when we started posting about topics that our team cares deeply about, rather than content we thought would “perform well”, our readership got larger and more engaged. There’s so much content out there that sincerity, and a values-based approach really stands out. It also indirectly exposes your readers to your unique value proposition, and helps them understand how your ideology sets you apart from similar companies”.

  • Sandeep Singh, Co-founder of InfiSecure, a bot protection platform says: “Apart from having a great navigation, user experience, and prominent opt-in form, the best way to grow lead list is to publish high-quality blog content and provide an insightful resource for visitors to download according to the buyer persona. Building and distributing such content assets builds thought leadership for a brand in the longer run and also gives an opportunity to nurture such leads to become potential prospects. This high-quality content and downloadable resource need to be regularly amplified via social media, online contests, and paid promotions.”
  • Sam Smith, Undernews, shares:  “I started in radio news, including writing nine newscasts a day, and one of the things I learned was to keep it lean and to the point. When I started the blog I worked on the same idea. Lots of short stuff to balance out the longer pieces. And don’t be serious all the time. Readers become bored just like you.”
  • Pamela Sutton, Owner of Pamela Sutton Photography urges people to dig deeper. She states: “Taking time to know my wedding couples personally and listen to their expectations is essential to building a photography business that stands out. By limiting the number of weddings I accept I’m able to do just that. In my experience, people don’t realize what they are looking for is a Photographer to personally connect with as much, or maybe even more, than they are looking for visual artistry. When clients feel cared for, they tell their friends and family which creates organic growth. Also, by offering a referral program, I can thank my clients for their word of mouth while at the same time creating a network of happy, repeat clients.”
  • Olivia Gumienny of Fox and Mint has inside tips to share: “There are many successful ways to grow your list, but it’s the strategic ways you engage with your subscribers that matters most. It doesn’t necessarily have to be with giveaways and competitions (although those are a great incentive to keep people sticking around).Targeting your message to your audience by segmenting your data is integral if you really want your subscribers to connect with what you’re telling them. For example showing your adult and family subscribers content that they can relate to. Personalizing your email marketing also is a super easy and simple way to bring your subscribers closer to you. By using their names in subject lines or by providing discounts on birthdays are just some very easy ways that allow your subscribers to grow closer to you.

Promo’s and Giveaways

email subscribers

  • Ryan Watkins of Ryan Watkins Professional explains: “Most people are reluctant to give away their e-mail and be put on your list. After almost a year of little success in getting people to sign up, I started giving away coupons as incentives for people to sign up. My list tripled after the first newsletter exclusive coupon I gave away.”
  • Kandice Kelso, Author at Green-Eyed Girl Productions, takes it even further. She said. “As an Online Wedding Coordinator, my blogging focuses on our E-Courses and The Project Block System, the cornerstone of our company. I use a 2-tier strategy to build my lists: Amazing Lead Magnets and The Excel Guest List Spreadsheet for couples which calculates their budget. (they download it for free when they subscribe. Once Subscribed, a 3-Email Series introduces my E-Courses. This series provides links to all other lists as well. Once on a list, they are exposed to all other lists and continue to subscribe throughout all my other services. All lists eventually end at my main product, The Project Block System.”
  • Dominic Barrios of the Top Knotters, breaks it down for us. He says: “Provide valuable content for your target readers. In our case, soon-to-weds love to hear our practical wedding tips and real stories from brides. Offer them free e-books, tools or any freebies because people just love getting free items easily, especially if these are of value to them. Don’t make things complicated for them.”
  • Easton Reynolds, founder of The Art of Six Figures lets us in on his strategy: “I have found the best way to grow our list is to host free webinars and reach out to our partners to help spread the word. Consumers want value before they feel comfortable giving you their contact info. A free webinar is a great way to be able to give them that value with real actionable nuggets of information. We drive registrations with Facebook ads which we believe is the most effective PPC lead gen platform on the market today.” LuRey Photography

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to build your blog. These experts and others have crafted strategy that fits will with their business. You can do the same thing. With a little trial and effort and a by letting your true personality shine through, there is a way for you,  

Local Branding

A Guide to Business Energy Contracts

Renewing/switching your business utility contract is highly important in order to prevent paying out-of-contract rates. This used to be a complex and sometimes risky process due to the strict guidelines suppliers imposed. However, in April 2015 Ofgem altered the termination process to make it more straightforward. Businesses can now notify suppliers of their termination at any point in the renewal window and give 30 days notice instead of 90. Additionally suppliers are required to provide customers with information regarding their supply and prices, 60 days before their contract ends. This information will allow businesses to compare rates and find the best energy deal for their needs.

OUT-OF-CONTRACT RATES

Out-of-contract rates occur when a business’s utility contract expires and either, an alternative contract hasn’t been agreed, or a contract has been terminated – in order to switch supplier – but a delay has prevented the new supply from taking effect in time. As a result, the supplier will still be providing the business’s energy, so will charge out-of-contract rates. These rates are significantly more expensive, sometimes more than twice as much, as agreed rates. Switching supplier can often be a lengthy and sometimes complicated process. Therefore, it is vital that you are aware of your contract end date and arrange an alternative in good time.

DEEMED CONTRACTS

A deemed contract takes effect when a supplier provides energy to a customer, who doesn’t have a contract in place. This situation usually arises when a customer moves into a new premises and consumes energy, thus activating a deemed contract with the energy supplier. Rates on a deemed contact are considerably more expensive, on average 80% more, than agreed rates. For that reason, it is advisable to arrange an energy contact prior to moving into new premises. If you’re paying deemed rates for your business utilities, negotiate a new energy contact as soon as possible. A supplier cannot prevent any business on a deemed contract from switching supplier at anytime. Similarly they cannot expect a business to give them advanced notice.

FIXED CONTRACTS

A fixed energy contract offers businesses some financial security, as the rates are fixed for a specific period of time – usually between 1-5 years. This allows businesses to budget for their utilities, as they shouldn’t receive any unexpected high bills. A fixed contract protects businesses from price rises in the energy market. However, the downfall is that they won’t benefit from any drop in energy prices. Additionally, fixed rates are often more expensive, to cover suppliers in the event of a drastic price rise in the energy market .

VARIABLE & FLEXIBLE CONTRACTS

Variable and flexible contracts are similar, as neither offers the same level of security that a fixed contract does. This is because their rates fluctuate in line with market price changes. They do, however, both offer flexibility, as you aren’t tied into them for a set period of time. You may leave these contracts at anytime, but will need to provide your supplier with 30 days notice. The main difference between flexible and variable contracts is the reason why the customer is placed on them, rather than on a fixed contract. A flexible contract is chosen by the customer, whereas a variable contract is offered by the supplier when they are unable to provide a customer with a fixed contract. This could be due to a variety of reasons, such as;

  • Low estimated annual consumption
  • Low credit score – this can be for various reasons, even simply being a new customer with no credit history.
  • A landlord is responsible for a premises energy supply.

LENGTH OF CONTRACT

You can fix your energy rates for between 1-5years. Meaning you will be tied into a contract with the same supplier for that length of time, which may seem rather daunting. Your supplier may also offer you attractive, lower rates for a 1 year contract. Consequently, you may be inclined to only agree to a one year deal. However, this may not be the most cost effective option for your business. The energy market is extremely volatile and energy prices can be subject to drastic change, rising as much as 15% in a single year. Therefore, if you only enter into a 1 year contract, in addition of having to go through the hassle of sourcing another deal in 6-12 months time, prices may rise significantly, leading to more expensive utility bills for your business.

WATT WE CAN DO

Watt Utilities is a family-owned utility brokerage located in Manchester. We have a dedicated team of utility specialists, who have helped over 855 thousand business pocket over £120 million in savings since 2000. Our team can help guide you through the process of switching/renewing your utility contract; and as we work alongside a large number of the UK’s leading suppliers we can offer current tariffs at the best rates, that are perfectly suited to your business’s needs. If you are looking to switch or renew your business energy contract today, click here!

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Local Branding

Essential Wedding Planning – Tips and Tricks

Most of us dream of our wedding day for years. We have this image in our mind of what the perfect wedding is. However, we have no idea what goes into making that perfect event. There are a million details that must be addressed to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

In our minds we see bridesmaids rushing around getting dressed, and the groomsmen in their tuxedos laughing on the steps of the chapel. What we do not give much thought to is the florist, caterers, DJ, minister or official, or the videographer. We do not think of the crews setting up chairs and setting tables, the cake being delivered, the limo driver or the bartender. There are so many ways to make wedding planning mistakes, but professionals are here to help. 

There are a lot of talented people that must work together in order to give you that perfect day. We have interviewed wedding professionals from around the country to get some great tips and tricks that you can incorporate into your wedding. So let us share with you advice from the experts.

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Wedding Planners, Vendors and other pros

We believe in the importance of a good wedding planner. The vast majority of problems and issues that dance on the nerves of the bride and groom are easily dealt with by an experienced wedding planner. If you can only afford one luxury for your wedding day, we suggest you hire a wedding planner.

Professionals Scott and Dana Halvorson of Weddings By Scott and Dana explain it best: “Dream weddings come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and to plan a truly memorable wedding can seem overwhelming. Here are a few tips to ensure your wedding will be an event to remember.

  • Know what you want: This is not just any ole wedding, it’s your wedding. Talk to you partner and decide what type of wedding you both would really enjoy. Personalize your wedding to match your personalities. Starting with a solid idea of what your dream is will make all the other decisions easier.
  • Get Help: Armed with your dream in mind, search out the professionals that can turn that dream into a reality.Everyone you hire, from your planner to your invitation designer, should know what your expectations are. Hire people who have experience with your type of wedding, then trust them to do what they do best.
  • Consider your guest: Think about your guest and how they will experience your wedding. Taking time to make sure your guest will be comfortable, occupied, entertained, and appreciated will create an event they will remember for years.
  • Have fun: Plan to enjoy this special day. Everyone will notice and it’s contagious. If you have fun so will everyone else. When everything is over, and you are reminiscing about your wedding, the fun you had is what you and your guest will remember the most.”

Cassandra Key-Lyons of Bridal Magic advises brides on ways to lighten their load and make things run much more smoothly:  

“My advice to couples planning their wedding: once you’ve made a decision, like picking your decor and color palette, stick with it. Don’t cause yourselves stress and confusion by continuing to look at alternatives. There are plenty of options out there but go with your instincts and what you want as a couple. Pouring over wedding websites and magazines long after you’ve already settled on something will only muddle the process. Also, don’t do something because you think you’re supposed to. If you don’t want a guestbook or to hand out favors with your initials on it, then don’t. It’s your wedding, so make it everything you want it to be.”

Courtney Branson from Lovely Little Blog also shares the idea to keep it simple. The internet is flooded by the ‘best wedding ideas’ but what if the brides just stick to what makes THEM happy?

“Pinterest can be your best friend or worst enemy. It’s great for sparking ideas and showing vendors your vision. It’s tempting to let it go past that but I encourage you to plan the wedding that fits your budget and vibe. There’s nothing less magical than realizing you’re in debt day one of marriage or planning a wedding that feels disingenuous to your relationship. You want folks to say, “This feels so y’all”. Don’t let the Pinterest board cloud your instincts.”

Betsy Tomasello, of Betsy Blue Photography, is in agreement on brides letting the professionals do what they do. That is the only way to get the best results. She says:

“One of my favorite ways to serve my brides is to include timeline assistance with every wedding booking. I’ve witnessed hundreds of weddings and am always happy to share my experience on when the best light might be for portraits, or possibly a more flattering position to angle the arbor in order to allow for the best light on the couple for their photographs.Planning a wedding is a huge undertaking, so why not rely on the experience of professionals around you to help plan your day to be as fluid and beautiful as possible.”

When it comes to wedding vendors, photographers, planners, and other professionals, John Lennon of Lennon Photography had this to share:

“Look for vendors who have a passion for what they do. A typical sales pitch equals common quality. You deserve vendors who dream of the perfect wedding because those are the people who care enough to deliver it to you.”

Trust your event coordinator to have some pretty cool ideas. They are up to the minute on wedding trends and traditions. Be open to their suggestions.

Kristin Rockhill, Wedding Stylist & Floral and Event Designs, has an eye for design and color. She says:

“Grey is my favorite color! When it comes to setting a stunningly styled tablescape my go to linen choice is grey. It pairs perfectly with wood tones, neutrals, pastels and even bright and cheery hues like lemon and tangerine!”

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves if we are creating the wedding we really want. If you want a small, intimate, gathering, then go for it.

As wedding expert, Maria Fernanda Marion of Blog da’ Maria Fernanda points out: “keep it small. Small weddings are more intimate and cozy.”

Bride showing Engagement Ring on Left Hand on Wedding Celebratio

Beauty

On this single day, you want to be the most beautiful you have ever been.

Take these tips from Nina Moran, Cheekadee Makeup Artist:

“Summer can be hot and sticky but let’s keep the hot in our makeup and ditch the sticky! Whether you are doing your makeup yourself or having it professionally done, here are some tips to keep your makeup fresh on your big day!

Tone with witch hazel, we really like Thayer’s, Witch Hazel. This will remove any unwanted oil that may interfere with the longevity of your makeup

Prime your skin- We love Tarte Clean Slate Poreless 12 Hour Perfecting primer. This product refines the skin, is waterproof and diffuses fine lines and imperfections.

If you are super oily you can use a mattifying product like Face to Face Super Matte Anti-shine. Just a bit it the t-zone will do.

Set your makeup with a setting spray! Our favorites are Model in a Bottle, or Makeup Forever Mist & Fix. This will really improve your makeup wear!”

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Photography

Photography is a major priority for any wedding. This is a day that must be captured for eternity. Some day our great-grandchildren will look back on this day and we want them to see the love and hope we had for the future in our photographs.

Bethanne of Bethanne Arthur Photography offers this advice:

“When searching for a photographer to capture your big day, keep a few things in mind.

  • Can you afford this photographer?
  • Are you willing to expand your wedding photography budget if you find your perfect match, in regards to photography style?
  • Do you feel comfortable with them?
  • Does your fiance feel comfortable with them? Do they seem personable?
  • Does this photographer seem to treat clients and events as just transactions, or do they try to get to know you or find a point of connection?
  • Do you love their work? It is so important to choose someone that actually has a photography style that you love.

 

These are your wedding photographs; these are priceless heirlooms you will have for the rest of your life and beyond, as they are passed down through the generations. Do not just hire someone because they are the least expensive, someone you know is friends with them, or they have 10,000 followers on Instagram. Choose a photographer that shoots images you love and swoon over; choose a photographer that you feel like you can connect with!”

Jillian McQuerrey, the owner of B.O.B. Photography, agrees with Bethanne about that special connection between the bride and photographer. She shared: “One tip I can wholeheartedly recommend is to do your research. I always tell couples I speak with to chat with more than one photographer. After that, choose the photographer you “click with”, love their work and feel comfortable around. If you think about it, you will spend more time with your photographer on your wedding day than your significant other. So you want it to be an enjoyable experience. The more comfortable you are with your photographer, the more natural your photographs will look.”

Many brides try so hard to control everything, for forget that they have hired professionals to relieve them of that stress.

This point was driven home by Betty Simpson, of Betty Elaine Photography, “Trust your photographer and other vendors! Yes, it is your wedding day (hooray!), but you do not need to be burdened with having to control the day or schedule out your timeline by yourself. Once you know what your wedding day is going to look like (location, ceremony start time, etc), it is important to talk to your wedding photographer about how much time they need for pictures. Let them draw up a schedule for portraits and help you figure out when hair and makeup should be finished. Your photographer will know the best time of day for outdoor pictures, how long you need them for getting ready pictures, and if a first look would be more practical for your wedding day.”

There are always little budget busters that manage to show up with weddings. Take care of small things and the big things will take care of themselves. The main thing is to have your day, have your memories, and have fun!

Here is a great tip by Jenna Henderson, of Jenna Henderson Photography “While wedding planning, don’t forget to budget a little money for after the wedding to use for prints of your wedding photos! After all, when the whole day is over, the photos are the only thing that will remain. You want to make sure you have enough cash stashed away that you can give your beautiful memories the treatment they deserve, whether that be in the form of a fine art album or perhaps a gallery of large framed prints. Printed photos also make a great gift for your parents as a way to say thanks for all of their support.”

Brandon O’Neal, of Brandon Oneal Photography, says it like this:

“As a photographer, I see weddings as a dance between preparation and chance. We like to allow the celebrations unfold naturally, but we often manipulate the timing and locations ahead of time so they work out in our favor for great images.Prepping for the day is essential- create timelines, do the meetings, set up the vendors. But, when the day comes, my biggest advice is to enjoy it no matter what. Brides put lots of time and energy into planning the day and it would be such a waste to not enjoy it. I want to photograph my brides and grooms having the time of their life, not micromanaging every detail and worrying about the flowers being just right – that doesn’t make for great images. So plan, then let go!”

Wedding photography is an art. So much depends on the location, timing, lighting, and ambiance.

Leslee Mitchell of Leslee Mitchell Art is an artist and photographer. As such, she has a wealth of knowledge she was gracious enough to share. She says:

“Light is 100% of every photo. It’s not 99%, it’s 100%.

Don’t let family photo time eat up more time than necessary. After all, the most important photos of the day are the ones of the bride and groom. No wedding is complete without the family photos, but family photos do not have to monopolize a majority of photo taking time.

However long your hair and makeup artist tell you it will take to complete hair and makeup, add at least 30-45 minutes. It’s common for hair and makeup to run over on schedule. When hair and makeup run over, you will receive fewer photos due to lost time that cannot be recovered.

Just relax. The most beautiful photos are the candid shots. Make a point to not know where the photographer is every second of the day. Chances are they’re somewhere looking right at you through their lens. Don’t mess up what could have been a beautiful, candid moment of you because you’re scanning the room looking for your photographer or trying to figure out if you’re being photographed.

If you hate being photographed to the point you almost break out in hives have a cocktail and relax. If you can’t relax, you will appear tensed in your photos. Don’t be hard on yourself. The majority of people are uncomfortable when they’re being photographed. Have a plan in place to be able to relax when it’s time to be in front of the camera. You’ll be very glad you did.”

Communication is key when it comes to your wedding. Details must never be left to chance. This tidbit from Leigh Fabozzi of Leigh Elizabeth Photography is right on the money! Leigh says,

“Maximize your photographer’s coverage by creating a timeline in advance. Make sure to sit down or have a phone call with your photographer about a month out from your wedding to finalize the timeline. Ask questions, iron out the details, and get on the same page. This will ensure your wedding day runs smoothly and stress-free!”

Carly Fuller from Carly Fuller Photography shared the idea of picking your home as a location for engagement photos. She stated: “Stay at home and capture your first professional photos in your first home together as a future married couple! One of my favorite places to capture a couple is in their own environment. All your favorite things surround you and even kitties are welcome!” By doing so, the engagement photos will be natural, and they’ll reflect your true personality.

Our Favorite Tip

Throughout the rest of your lives together, there will be issues and situations that monopolize your time. Take this advice from Candice Benjamin of Candice Benjamin Photography. Make this a habit throughout all of life’s challenges and you will always be content.
Candice simply states: ”Have a weekly date night where you aren’t allowed to talk about the wedding. Enjoy your time together!

Social Media Impacts Your Company's Brand
SaaS Branding

How To Grow Your List – Successful People Resource Page

Did you know that your email marketing database degrades by about 22.5% every year

Naturally, your contacts’ email addresses are changing for they move to another email, change companies or, ouch, opt-out of your email communication.

As a business owner, it’s your job to make sure you’re constantly adding fresh contacts to your list.

Why?

This is extremely important if you want to keep your numbers moving up.

We’ve been out there hunting for the perfect advice for you to grow your list. Check out this advice and implement for growing your email list faster:

Michelle Rae Anderson, Managing Director at NordicSpotlight.com:

We use an Add This overlay on our website when visitors click away to subscribe, but our biggest success for attracting new subscribers to our list (which has an 41.5% open rate) is sharing the link to our latest newsletter with our social channels whenever we publish another email, along with a short recap of what the newsletter includes (usually the latest music from the Nordic countries, available music festival ticket and travel packages, Northern European travel news, news podcast episodes, content to look forward to, our most popular blog posts since the last email, etc.). This let’s new followers on Twitter, Facebook, etc. know that the newsletter exists, and also attempts to persuade everyone who’s not on the list yet know what kind of goodness they can get sent directly to their inbox should they decide to opt in.

Sandeep Singh, Co-founder & CMO at InfiSecure:

Apart from having a great navigation, user experience and prominent opt-in form, the best way to grow lead list is to publish high-quality blog content and provide an insightful resource for visitors to download according to the buyer persona. Building and distributing such content assets builds thought leadership for a brand in the longer run and also gives an opportunity to nurture such leads to become potential prospects. This high-quality content and downloadable resource need to be regularly amplified via social media, online contests, and paid promotions.

Dana Baardsen, Founder of Agile Trend Media on her blog strategy for DynaPro Direct:

Growing a brand’s blog is fun, and if it’s not, you’re not doing it right. It’s crucial to be savvy with SEO, feature catchy (not click-baity) headlines, and provide serviceable and accurate information regularly — but it’s even more important to ditch your personal itch to micromanage every piece of content. Here’s why: By allocating energy to public relations and opening up your site to editorial collaborations, you’ll feed new energy into an otherwise one-sided stream of content. What happens when you schedule collaborative blog content regularly? An increase in engagement, views, shares, likes, sales, and fun!

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Digital Branding

Crowdfunding Marketing – How to Raise Millions in a Month

It has been repeatedly said over and over again that, to gain success in your crowdfunding, campaign you need to have a perfect product, project or idea. People must desire the thing that you offer because, when they don’t, you are doomed. However, a beginning entrepreneur needs to be aware of the fact that the difference between crowdfunding success and failure isn’t just about this one factor, as there are many more things that matter in the process. As well as a good idea, you need to think carefully, tweak every step you take and have a well-executed crowdfunding marketing plan.

If you have a brilliant idea, tested with your family and friends, you can start to think about the beginning your campaign. Crowdfunding platforms offer an easy way to kick off the campaign, which enables groups or individuals to collect the exact, specified amount of money needed to reach the market on a high scale. However, publishing the idea on such a platform doesn’t always equal success. Behind every triumph, there’s a great crowdfunding marketing plan with a notable effort by its founders.

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The idea of crowdfunding is all about showing the personal ethos of the campaign, the connection between what you want to say and the emotions of your product’s potential recipients. You have to think how to create and present your product to make people desire it and be the only one who can satisfy their needs.

Follow this article to find out how to plan a successful crowdfunding campaign.

When to Plan a Crowdfunding Marketing Campaign?

The best crowdfunding marketing campaigns are planned out long ahead of their launch. It’s a good idea to schedule all the steps as early as possible, to make the campaign deliberate and fruitful. Make sure that as many people as possible know about your idea, get them used to it and ensure they are ready to share their thoughts with others – it’s how you broaden your potential for better traction, and it all happens before you launch your campaign. It may sound strange at the very beginning, but it is incredibly crucial – if you want to succeed in a crowdfunding campaign, it will be helpful to proceed with early media outreach. Of course, the media is swamped with eager entrepreneurs pitching products. Therefore, you have to be aware that it’ll take some time to get on the radar of most journalists, so the best decision in this case is to not hesitate and begin this process ahead of your launch.

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The Most Important Factors

The important rule for fundraising marketing in general (and crowdfunding marketing in particular) is to take many steps at the same time. You need to do these things in parallel, so be prepared to try your hand at multitasking.

The Product

Although, earlier on, I’ve mentioned that the idea or product by itself isn’t the only key factor in the crowdfunding marketing process, but it is still one of the most important aspects. The object of the campaign needs to be special and unique; in short, it has to attract the attention of potential users. It will be an additional benefit if it is an embodiment of innovation. There should be a need or scarcity of your product in the market. The old rule says that such scarcity drives demand, so it is one of crowdfunding’s expected rules that your supporters should get something in exchange for their participation and money. You can offer some simple exchange for the help from participants by providing them an equity participation in your business or an early bird copy of your product, just as an act of returning a favor.

Broaden Your Network

Start with your personal network on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and so on. It is likely that the major part of your social media network consists of your family and friends, and that is an excellent factor. These are people who are eager to hear good news from you and be a part of your success. For sure, they’ll do all they can to spread your idea out there and make good use of it. But how do you make them want to contribute more? Remember not to send out the same message to everyone. Separate your contacts into lists of friends, family, business and acquaintances. This doesn’t mean that you have to write different messages to all of the people on your list, but do try to personalize it, even by just a little. It is also good to know who may be the biggest influencer on your list – in other words, who’s got the largest social circles both online and offline – as they can be of real help when expanding your network.

networking

Besides your social circle, look at the network of other business group related to your campaign. It is a good idea to connect with them and try to write a guest post on their blogs, or maybe they can give you a shout out on your blog or campaign. As you reach this new audience, you have to keep them engaged with questions and conversations – you need to maintain contact with them. Only with this engagement will you be able to build a sense of community and convert followers into supporters.

Create a Narrative

Everyone who is involved in your project should follow the same script. They have to know the history of the enterprise or a startup – how things started, where you want to go and how you intend to get there. Also, you need to explain why you’ve chosen crowdfunding instead of other investment strategies and, of course, you need to give them a description of how their funding will make a difference.

 

Make it Multi-Dimensional

Now, it is still time to persuade potential backers. It is incredibly important to testify with proof and credibility – in other words, support your pitch with facts, figures, and specifics on costs, forecasts and expectations. It’ll make you look and sound like a professional who knows the market in exact detail and is aware of how the product development will be executed, including when to take each step.

Your campaign should also be a media event, something that goes viral across many platforms and social media services. If it goes viral, it will be seen by the highest range of people, amongst whom may be some who desire your idea, like it and, what is highly important, choose to share it on their profiles, making it go further and further.

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Today, people are more likely to pay attention to vivid videos and photographs – so try to make a good use of these. Arrange a few photos of individuals interacting with the product, show the commitments by key principals and testimonials made by older users and people who are eager to support your project.

Last, but not least, create educational, informative and entertaining videos of prototypes in action, the users involved or comments from analysts. It will help to engage with recipients and to better help make your campaign go viral.

Find Early Backers

Before your campaign emerges on the crowdfunding platform, make sure you don’t start at “0% funded.” You’ve already gained the attention of your family, friends and probably your friends’ friends. If you are lucky and creative enough, your material went viral and it is a huge success! You’ve got connections with online business groups interested in your product and you’ve gained some more traction. Now, the aim is to get a commitment from them and make them the earliest backers, who will support your project as soon as you launch the campaign. That way, you can demonstrate momentum right off the bat!

It is not hard to find them as long as you have a brilliant idea, as you’ve already broadened your network and traction – this step is incredibly important to do ahead of your launch.

Improve, improve, improve

As things are ongoing, your product and campaign develop continuously. Prove what has changed and give evidence to support these positive developments. Remember that your strategy must include the development and improvement of existing marketing media – it will be a shred of evidence that more and more people are interested and it is worth shining a light on your product and devoting some time to know it better.

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Revitalize your website as soon as it is needed. Inform your audience about what’s new and what’s shaking with the campaign: keep them up to date. If you do this correctly, you’ll build a loyal community of recipients, ready to support and go for your idea.

Statistics show that 60% of crowdfunding campaigns fail to reach their funding – no wonder, creating a crowdfunding campaign isn’t just about signing up on the platform and looking at how the money on your account rises day by day. The process is much more complicated, as you might have noticed. It is all about being prepared to answer all of the doubts and questions which may show up during the campaign, knowing who may follow the idea and always broadening your network. Furthermore, to gain success, you have to do all of these things in parallel and be ready for any sudden plot twist.

Remember you are the only person who is going to care enough about your campaign. Follow the rules, work hard, and you will succeed for sure.

 

5 Steps to Successful Digital Marketing for Tech Companies
Digital Branding

Crowdfunding vs. Traditional Fundraising: Pros and Cons

Money is one of the most important factors throughout all of the development stages of business, but the time when you probably need it the most will be the very beginning of your activity on the market. Fundraising may become a drudgery because, sometimes, finding investors who will back your idea can be a hard nut to crack. Those who have already gained some experience looking for investors and collecting money are absolutely aware of the fact that investors are known to be quite selective with where they will place their money. The purpose of investing money is to see it grow – if they don’t believe a new business will become profitable, then they are unlikely to take a chance on it.

crowdfunding

Technology and Fundraising

A few years ago, the only way to collect the much-needed money was to fill in an application and ask a bank whether you’re a good candidate to get a loan or not. Another way to get funding was to throw a networking party, where all the guest will be likely to contribute and give your project a chance to thrive, or to look for investors on one’s own account. However, as technology develops continuously, some new options have emerged on the horizon, giving fledgling entrepreneurs and great inventors alike an opportunity to spread their ideas out. One of these comparatively new methods is crowdfunding, which enables people to create campaigns online and collect money via means of the Internet and crowdfunding platforms. All you have to do is to have a brilliant idea, sign up on the platform, create a campaign and start collecting funds to spread your idea wider.

Traditional fundraising and crowdfunding have the same purposes, so it should be indifferent which variant to choose, albeit in some cases where, for some reasons, it is better to opt to specifically crowdfund or fundraise.

crowdfund

Pros and Cons of Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding stems from fundraising, but with a twist. It trades upon the power of groups of individuals, or a pre-existing community, to kick off a cause or project and initiate its success. It allows you to put the project out there, even if the entrepreneur’s budget is close to none and, rationally, it should be cursed with failure because of these small resources. Fortunately, even if it seems that your only resource is your brilliant idea and you’re completely starved of other resources or support, it doesn’t mean that you have to drop out of the game.

prosandcons

If you are at the very beginning of your adventure on the market, crowdfunding might be a perfect direction for you. Anyone can create a campaign on these platforms. All a starting entrepreneur has to do is to sign up on the crowdfunding platform, describe what his targeted amount of money to collect is – this is typically the amount which enables the project to see the light of the day. It all sounds like a piece of cake and it really isn’t so hard. The purpose you’re collecting money for doesn’t matter. Whether it’s a new application, an exceptional kitchen robot or a music album, you can create a campaign, set the needed amount of money and the period of which people can contribute and transfer money to back your idea. What is also crucial to mention is that you can personally thank them for this help. The idea of crowdfunding establishes that your backers can either have an equity stake in your business or you can send them an early bird copy of the product, which is like killing two birds using one stone because doing so both shows your heartfelt appreciation and ensures your product sees the light of the day. It is perfect for those campaigns where every single dime counts because the only costs that they bear are – in most of the cases – the incredibly low commissions on the transferred amount of money.

Of course, this approach of collecting money also has some disadvantages. The crowdfunding campaign is time limited, which means that, if the project doesn’t collect enough money during the designated time, it won’t reach its goal and will still be missing the necessary amount of money. The idea of crowdfunding enables supporters to decide whether to dedicate the money to your project or not. It can be an advantage, of course, but let’s imagine a situation in which the potential backer scrolls down a platform which features hundreds of campaigns. So many pictures and volumes of information hits his or her mind at once – they can simply lose their bearings and even bypass your campaign entirely. Your idea can be brilliant for the niche but, for the majority of people who look at the website, it might seem impersonal or needless. Another group of individuals use crowdfunding as a means of collecting money, while also taking the community out of fundraising and will impersonalizing the act of giving. But don’t worry, as, with most investments, people tend to put their money where they will see or feel the most impact. Crowdfunding is all about connecting to real people in real communities, where trust and reputation are front and center in the process.

traditionalfundraising

Pros and Cons of Traditional Fundraising

Traditional fundraising has existed for years, often known as the typical way to raise money for worthy cause. It enables people to contribute to a charity or a cause they believe in, for as long as there has been a need to do so, making other people’s life better. It was – and still is – usually done by collecting money during events or parties where people (potential donors) have fun with something to drink or eat, before sharing their money on a good cause. A much more efficient way of collecting money to start a business, however, is to get funding from venture or angel investors, who share their money with promising projects and see how their money grows in exchange. Another way of raising funds via traditional means is to ask for a bank loan to start or develop your business. All of those methods are not time limited – it means that, by contrast to crowdfunding, this support can be on a long-term basis. Donors sometimes give annual donations, or spread their contributions out. This means that the entrepreneur gets constant financial income, which can be crucial for continual business development.

funds

When you take your first, short glimpse at fundraising in direct comparison to crowdfunding, you’ll see that traditional fundraising may seem much easier. You only need to find an investor or go to a bank to ask for a loan. Beware, it’s not so easy as it seems!

Regarding traditional fundraising, it is often a huge investment of time, money, and valuable resources that lower-income groups or individuals can’t summon. According to the history of fundraising for charity, as well as other good causes, people need to have some money in the first place to offer potential donors some entertainment to make them come and keep them interested. It’s obvious that beginning entrepreneurs and artists don’t have funds to start and develop such an activity, let alone the funds and resources required to throw parties and keep people interested that way. When it comes to loans – which at first may seem like a perfect and fast solution – it may turn out to be nothing but toil. To get a loan, you have to fill in an application containing all of the information about your business activity; you need to prove that you’ll be able to give the money back to the bank – which can be hard. The thing to remember is to conduct good research to find which banks offer the needed type of loan. If you skip this part, you’ll probably lose your time wandering from one bank to another, hearing that you’re not able to fulfill the various requirement that the bank imposes on its borrowers. Remember, you always have to give the money back; it doesn’t matter if your project sinks or swims!

crowdfunding

When comparing crowdfunding and traditional fundraising, the differences are easily visible and, what’s more, both approaches have their own pros and cons, so it often depends on the situation and development level of the entrepreneurship, when it comes to which method to choose.

Undoubtedly, the traditional means of fundraising have been very successful for a lot of projects; however, crowdfunding allows people with very few physical resources the opportunity to develop startup funds for large projects and high needs. The way someone raises money should be deliberate and tailored to his possibilities and business needs.

 

budget wedding
Local Branding

The Wedding Of Your Dreams – On Budget!

The price of a wedding has reached an all-time high. The average wedding costs $31,213.00. While couples set a budget for their wedding a shocking 45% of them exceed their budget. We reached out to the experts and got some great tips on how to stay on budget and have the wedding of your dreams.

budget wedding

Make it your own

Many couples feel the need to stay with tradition, even if the traditions do not represent their own likes. This is your wedding and it is your brand. You do not have to stay in tradition that uses up your budget on things that mean nothing to you.

 

Andrea Belle, of Andrea Bell Studio’s, LLC says, “Allow yourself to break free from the pressure to follow some traditions.If something doesn’t feel like an expression of who you or what you want to remember from your wedding, then give yourself some time before you commit to that item or service”.

Michelle Robinson, of Michelle Robinson Photography offers: “When it comes to planning a wedding, but staying on your wedding budget is to first plan out what is truly important to you and your fiancé. Taking your time to research and plan out as much as you can so that you can say at the end of your wedding, “that was worth every penny!”.

Shea McGrath explains another way to break tradition and save money without sacrificing beauty. “Have your ceremony/reception at a family home in the backyard or at a national park. Wedding venues can be extremely expensive. National Parks are another great option if you like the outdoors because wedding permits are extremely inexpensive and the parks provide stunning views! This option allows you to bring your own food, cutting on catering costs.”

Sarah Maren of Sarah Maren Photography, “Forget about the favors! No one wants weird candy or a bottle opener. Chances are, those things will get left on the table or worse, thrown out! Add something fun to your wedding that has a small takeaway – like a photo booth! The images printed that day are a great memento for your guests, a fun activity during the reception, and loads of silly memories for you as well!”

“My biggest tip for keeping your wedding on a budget is to enlist your friends and family to help with the event in lieu of gifts. My husband and I thought it would be more special for our guests to participate rather than say, buy us a blender. I had artistic friends help with the wedding invitations, a photographer friend manned the homemade photo booth, a couple of musician friends played guitar as we walked down the aisle, another friend made a headpiece for me to wear.” Liz Teich , The Brooklyn Stylist.

 

Photography tips

“Focus on coverage so you have wedding photographs you’re proud to show off. You can always add an album or prints after the big day but you can never go back and be sure you hired your dream photographer for the time you needed.” Jennifer Smith, Darling Photo

“Choose the top 3 vendors who are most important to you and investing the majority of your budget there. In choosing these, think about the way you will always remember your wedding. Weddings can go by so quickly, so having valuable and treasured memories to share and look back on is extremely important to most couples. Whether you’re getting married at little to no cost in a park or a backyard to spending half of your budget on the best venue around, the way your photographer and videographer capture your wedding will be very important, especially since these are usually the only visual memories you have of the most important day in your life! Happy planning!” Katie Guth, Katie Guth Photography  

“Photography is probably one of the most diverse services that you can book for your wedding.

  • Analyze the work of great photographers, so you get accustomed with what style to you like.
  • Never choose a photographer based on his price!
  • Take your time to analyze portfolios of at least five local photographers.

Remember that photography is one of the most important choices to make. A badly taken photo can ruin all the hard work you put in organizing your dream day and your precious memories.” Erdei Rudolf, Erdei Rudolf Photography

 

Priorities

“Make a list of all components that you want for your wedding (e.g. flowers, music, food) and then prioritize them according to your preference. So, if your flower arrangements and other floral decor are the most important aspect of your day, don’t spend most of your money on music. Spend it on what your top priorities are. If you do this consistently, all your priorities will turn out exactly how you dreamed!”: Alina Smith, The Sassy Gator

wedding theme

“When planning for a wedding, I would recommend putting aside some money for incidentals and a splurge. There is going to be at least one item that the couple will want to splurge on. Choose wisely!” Misse Daniel, Honey Bee Weddings

“Not everything can be a priority! Choose your top priorities and be honest about where you’re willing to spend and where you really don’t much care. For some people, the priority is music and the party while the décor is quite far down the list. So hire a live band or a killer DJ and go to the market for field flowers with your family and friends. For others, décor and photography are everything, so the music is a well-appointed playlist”. Teressa Johnson, Teressa Johnson Studio

Tourine Johnstone from Johnstone Studios added: “Everything from DIY details to destination weddings can start to add up financially. No matter what your style and design, ensure the choices you make toward your wedding will add impact for your event. Start planning the budget to allow the most value for the categories that will add impact to your day. Selecting the perfect venue, your favorite cater, a photographer that you trust to capture amazing photos, a band or DJ to keep the party going, and your florist; these will really make the most impact to the day. Once you have reserved these not to compromise categories, rewrite the budget to supplement the day’s design; here is where you can make choices that will keep you in the budget. It is the details that can throw a budget, so have a conversation with your sweetie about how important that candy table may be”.

 

Attire

Taiwan Designer Yu Le of Chou&Y told us, “Hand-made dress, the real value is not material, is your own story.”

“Renting tuxedos or suits for your big day is definitely the way to go. Everyone in your wedding party will receive a complete ensemble that matches perfectly and is tailored to their specific build”. Mark Sarno, President of Tuxedo by Sarno

 

Other great tips

“The best way to stay on budget is to not plan or book anything until you have a budget. Especially when looking at venues – read the fine line and make sure you know ALL of the fees, gratuities, taxes, etc. that will add to that bottom line you are actually paying. Also, it is important to consider what your venue rental fee includes… while $3,000 might seem like a cheap rental compared to another venue that charges $5,000 but if that $5,000 rental includes chairs, tables, linens and more than maybe it’s a steal.” Nichole of Ivory and Beau Wedding Planning and Bridal Boutique

“A tip to stay on budget with your flowers when you are drawn to higher-end blooms like peonies and garden roses is to give your florist creative freedom and use those statement blooms as accents in your bouquets or centerpieces alongside more cost effective blooms. When placed correctly one or two peonies can elevate a centerpiece, while helping with the overall cost. Greenery also gives a lush feel with adding volume, but is far more cost effective than a centerpiece that is completely roses or peonies.”  Tamara Menges of Tamara Menges Designs

“Design your own invitations and have them printed at places like Office Depot or Staples. Sign up for their newsletter so you can watch for coupons on printing. Find your inspiration on Pinterest, and design away. To keep the invites looking professionally designed, you’ll want to use only two fonts and buy thick paper from places like Paper and More.”  Loren Jackson, from Loren Jackson Photography

Jamie Podworski,  the Owner of Jpod Films added: “Hiring a quality wedding planner will pay for itself three times over. The best wedding planners that we work with go above and beyond for their clients offering invaluable expertise, which in the end saves money and reduces the overall stress of the planning process.”

 

By following these expert tips and adding your own creativity and style, you can have a unique and memorable wedding that is truly your own. You can stay on budget without sacrificing the things that mean the most to you.

Busy bloggers
Digital Branding

Hacks And Tips To Keeping Your Focus

 

 

Many people have the dream of being an online entrepreneur. Way too often the demands of work, family, and social responsibilities seem to overwhelm us, convincing us to give up that dream before we really learn to manage it.

For thousands of people, that dream is their reality. They have learned to balance their lives and to carve out the necessary hours to invest in themselves and their businesses. They have learned to focus on creating the life they want. This gives them the super-ability to get more done in less time.

Take these tips from very busy bloggers who are succeeding and thriving with their entrepreneurship. Choose the ones that will work in your life and adjust them as needed to make them fit. It will take work and commitment. The payoff is freedom to live the life you want to live and give your family the best of you.

Planning, Prioritizing, Writing it down

These pros share with us the need to use a calendar, diary, and list to keep things moving in the right direction.

Karen Houghton, atlantatechvillage.com shares with us, the following:

Running the 4th largest tech hub in the United States means there is always work to be done. Atlanta Tech Village is open 24/7, houses over 300 startups, and we host over 400 events a year. It can be easy to live each day from a reactive place. Instead, I live by my calendar and intentionally plan time and space each day to create a rhythm of work that allows me to be my most productive. Times I will take meetings, when and how many events I attend, office time to answer emails, and even time for reading and writing are planned for and time blocked accordingly. I even schedule buffer time in case there are fires to put out, which there always are. By scheduling my time and using tools like Calendly, I am able to protect my time and make sure I have space to prioritize important things and make sure I get done what needs to get done.

James Kelly, from thelifeofluxury.com, uses a to-do list to prioritize his day.

Each day, we are bombarded with an avalanche of work.  It can be quite stressful. It’s important to start your day with a to-do list. Prioritize them by importance and fully understand what is required.  Knocking off a few “low hanging fruit” provides a sense of accomplishment. The key for me is to avoid distractions, such as limiting cell phone use. I also like to block out a meeting time, so I can focus on the project. Be sure to recognize what you finish and not dwell on tasks that roll to the next day.

Using a diary allows Laura Martin, www.missljbeauty.com to always be prepared.

My tips for productivity are quite simple. I love to have a diary. I set aside time to blog and time for ideas. Carrying a notebook while, on the go is a great way to write down ideas and thoughts. The best advice I received is to be yourself and find your love.  Yes, that Sounds strange in regards to productivity but if you need a break have one. Your brain works better when you are not stressed. If you don’t love what you do. You will not find time to do it. Remember passion is key to success.

Stewart Smith, mkremodeling.com, finds mental preparation keeps him focused.

I’m a stay-at-home dad, so my time window for working is as long as my daughter is napping. Once that window closes, it’s gone until the next day, so I have to hit the ground running. To counter the time limitations, I try to not open my laptop until I have something already written in my head. Usually, it’s a sentence or two, or maybe it’s a cluster of keywords, but as long as I’m not staring at a blank screen, I will find the spark to get going. That, and coffee. Always coffee.

Divide and conquer – taking small bites

Breaking the day into manageable time frames helps Maureen Anders, www.arworkshop.com

I schedule myself in 30-minute time increments throughout the day.  In those 30-minute increments, I list out several “to dos” to be sure that I stay on track.

 

Amber Shawver, www.FourtoAdore.com, finds it easier to break projects into phases.

After I take photos for the blog, I use apps for photo editing, watermarking, and archiving pictures, which I upload directly to the WordPress app as a draft.  Then, I designate time to write pieces corresponding with my photos.

Kerry Bergeman, www.shopfrulu.com & www.new2two.com, grabs minutes daily.

For me, it’s about being organized and surrounding myself by a supportive network. I set aside time every day. I try for the same time, but that never works with two sets of twins running around. I do try to write for at least ten minutes a day and spend ten minutes networking. That is at a minimum. Additionally, I like to engage with people who will support and help me grow. No nay-sayers in this life!

Pam Kocke, pyjammy.com combines, mental preparation with list building.

Challenge yourself to post on a regular schedule. And make sure your readers know about it, so you’ll be accountable. Serial posts work well – document the growth of your garden (or children) or do a countdown to a special event.

Write posts when you’re inspired, and then schedule them for the future. That way, if you can’t think of anything to write about, you’ll always have something on hand to post.

Keep a list of post ideas in an app that you can access from anywhere. (I use Simplenote.) Whenever I am feeling uninspired, I just read through that list and pick something.

Focus and Focus-Breaks

Focus is a must for the blogger. You have to do the best you can with the limited times you have. But sometimes you have to use tools to break your focus so you can dedicate time to every project.

Ally Gonzales, RunningSoleGirl.com refuses to give less than 100%

A big part of staying productive for me is focusing on one task at a time. In my experience, when people try to multi-task they end up becoming distracted and their work suffers. In any business, especially blogging; you’re always being pulled in multiple directions to try and get everything done. It’s a constantly evolving world, and by focusing on the task at hand you know you’re putting out your best work.

 

Breaking focus to be more effective is important to Mary Ann Zimmerman, www.mindability.com  

Use An Alarm! Personally, a phone alarm helps me regain control of those minor issues that crop up, keeps me from being distracted, and helps me stay ahead of the daily deadlines. Beyond using alarms for getting up in the morning, a basic phone alarm also helps me depart a meeting that runs longer than planned, which automatically increases my productivity and positively impacts the day’s schedule.

 

Doing it all, and doing it healthy

Yoga helps Kim France, girlofacertainage.com stay sharp and relaxed.

I am currently writing a memoir, which I work on during the week, so I do my blog posts on the weekends. I wake up around 6:30, have coffee, walk the dogs, go to an 8:30 yoga class, come home and get right to work. If I’m really cranking, I can get most of the week’s posts done by the end of Saturday.

 

Mila Chervenkova, www.milaonsupplements.com, knows health is the foundation to success.

Keeping my head above water and multitasking could be a difficult thing to complete when my main goal is productivity. Here are a few things I do at the beginning and the end of each day: 1) Plan your day, always have something to do, 2) Always write down your thoughts, 3) I have a daily calendar on my desk, and I fill it with all of the things I want or need to accomplish that day or the other one, 4) Take breaks. Go for a walk. Do some yoga, or my favorite kill the weights in the gym. 5) Take your dietary supplements such as fish oil, vitamin d and some nootropics known as “smart drugs.”

Darrell Grable, neurohacker.com insists on balance:

You must be mentally and physically organized. You do not have to do the same thing every day at the same time, but you must know what you have to do, and when it has to be done. Use your smartphone, calendar, computer, or a pen and paper. But whatever you use, unplug before you do the task.

Fazal Mayar, richerornot.com, however, puts his health and life-work balance first:

You will rarely have entire days to contribute to your work. So, use your minutes wisely and let the hours take care of themselves. Being healthy means having energy, eating well, getting in exercise, and maybe even taking supplements to improve your abilities. You cannot take care of everyone else unless you first take care of yourself.

Todd Middlebrooks, President discusses how technology significantly helped his team be more productive:

We live in an age where technology can significantly improve our daily lives if we know how to use it. At CSII, we’ve helped many physical offices go either partially or entirely virtual.  Seeing employees and managers improve their productivity and efficiency and increasing their overall level of happiness is why we get up in the morning.

Jose Rosario, Owner of SELAH BODYWORKS, states on his productivity:

At times we can confuse being busy with being productive.  As an owner of a small business, it happens all the time.  I always have to implement compensatory strategies to make sure I stay productive. Alerts on my phone, google doc alerts or even the good old yellow sticky reminders. All three come in handy to keep me on track!

Jake Fisher, the owner of Bridges Strategies, talks about cutting distraction with some apps:

Writing valuable content often requires long-term focus to “get into the zone.” A distraction-free writing app is crucial for staying focused. We use the HubSpot Composition Tool but there are plenty of options including stand-alone apps like WriteMonkey and FocusWriter.

Scott Harris, President, and Founder from Mustang Marketing  says:

I’ve found that when you consistently deliver engaging and relevant content, your readership will grow organically. While factoring SEO into the equation is important in order for readers to find your writing and services, readers will become loyal subscribers when you provide quality material that is educational, drives the conversation and promotes engagement. Treat content as king and respect your audience by avoiding writing shallow and gimmicky posts or blogs that offer little benefit to you and them.

Conclusion

These professionals have found their own paths to success. There are many avenues to explore. Some will work for you and some will not. You may rely on project management tools, your will, ability to cut distractions, or whatever works for you. You may even come up with some of your own to share. There are a few things we can all agree on.

Find or create the formula that works for you and work it. If you do, you will make it.

Mattress Startup Branding Tips
Digital Branding

Sleeping Like A Baby – How to Brand a Mattress Startup

With the recent shakeup in the mattress industry surrounding the use of technology, we have come to see many new, and innovative products offered for your personal sleep comfort. Materials are more affordable to manufacture than ever. And with construction design available for a customized sleep experience for a fraction of what it cost a decade ago- it’s no wonder we have seen an influx in new mattress startup companies.

Online advertising and warehouse to front porch shipping also make the consumer experience that much more convenient, which is why branding your startup is so important to your company’s success.

What is a Brand, Exactly?

We aren’t talking about the brands used to this day in the cattle market to distinguish ownership, although the concept was born there. Instead, branding your product in a business sense means to provide a unique promise to your customers that they will recognize amongst all others.

How your customers perceive what you have to offer should be a foundational starting point for your brand, and include what you are communicating to them. Your website, promotional strategies, and graphics should all portray to them this brand. In this case, branding a new mattress startup means you want to shine above all others in the industry and suggest you have something others don’t. So how, exactly, do you go about branding your products to convey this to the world? 

A brand is derived from who you are and what you want your customers to view you as. Hopefully, this is one and the same or you may eventually have some issues with your marketing techniques. This means that you need to start with a clear purpose in mind of where you want to go with this business and start from there. 

How Do I Brand My Mattress Startup?

Once you have a clear purpose of what your business does, you need to make sure you convey to your customers why they need it in their lives. This is your strategy, and you need to consider the following to get yourself started on a journey of business success.

  • Consistency is key in all aspects of this approach as you consider how to best communicate your products, and to whom. What, where, and when you promote your items are all ways to get your brand attention, so you need to take the time to know your audience in order to best reach them in a marketing platform that appeals to them.
  • Learn the needs and desires of your ideal consumer and provide them opportunities to see your brand through your logo, tagline, and within every aspect of your business. Be sure to use an emotional appeal to get their attention. People rarely buy based on logic, they buy based on emotion so you want them to associate those emotions with your brand.
  • Use social communities to build knowledge about your brand. With the use of digital media and online advertising, this is easier than ever. Social media provides an excellent, and inexpensive way to both promote and get the feedback you need to make your brand grow.
  • Make sure your product value is clear to the consumer. Ask yourself why your brand is the best, and convey this message to your audience. If you struggle to answer this, then you need to delve back into your business goals and purpose. This should be a clear, and consistent message.

Customer Service Is Key

All of the above may provide you with an outline to follow for marketing your brand, but your growth will be more dependent upon your customer service. By investing in customer service, and providing for your audience a tangible result, people will begin to pay attention.

Consider a mattress review site that provides unbiased, honest reviews of your product. Positive experiences with the product and effective communication with your customer service is exactly what a potential buyer want to see to make sure their investment is worthwhile. Mattresses are a very personal item people purchase for themselves, and they need reassurance that if they are unhappy, or have questions, their time is valuable to you as a company.

Marketing Strategies

But isn’t everything I’ve been talking about marketing? Not quite. It’s important not to confuse marketing with branding your product, or you may end up undermining your entire message. Sure, branding your product is an integral part of marketing techniques, but they aren’t one and the same.

As mentioned, your brand is your promise to your customer. It should precede and underlie the pushing of your product in a marketing platform. Marketing gets people to buy, but your brand is what gets them to keep coming back for more of what your company has to offer.  You want people to remember the brand, not necessarily the item you are pushing, and in order to do this, you need to get your brand noticed.

To do so you need to promote your brand. By now you should know and anticipate the needs and wants of your consumer and have an idea of how your product is being received. Customer service may be the best way to help spread the word of your products, but getting that brand out there will direct people to search you out.  

Never underestimate the power of blogging to help market your brand. Not only can you compile your product reviews all in one spot, but you can also provide direct links, promotional items, and helpful hints and ways to best support the industry you are selling in. For example, helpful, searchable articles surrounding “Tips to Sleep Better”, or attention-grabbing titles like “Sex and Sleep”, will all bring attention to your brand through online shares to social media and commenting forums.

Avoid This Pitfall

As with anything, even if you feel you have a great product and should be getting attention, there will always be setbacks. To start, you need to know that this will happen and you need to recognize when your strategies are not working before you sink too much money into it. At this point, you need to reassess and avoid the pitfalls that may have held you back.

In order to get attention, you need to be first. Ask yourself, did you make your mark with an entirely new idea or approach, or did you follow a tried and true path that has already been done? If this is the case, it doesn’t mean you aren’t marketable, it means you aren’t branded: you aren’t memorable to the consumer. And you need to go back to the drawing board and determine why, exactly, should consumers consider your mattress over all others? What can you offer that others can’t?

This all comes back to product value mentioned earlier in the article. This is crucial to your survival and should be clear to everyone involved to provide the momentum needed for a successful branding strategy.

What is your e-commerce brand
Digital Branding

How to Establish an Authentic E-Commerce Brand

What is your e-commerce brand

A strong brand is so much more than a cutesy name, a logo, and a corporate color scheme. At its core, it’s about creating an authentic identity and purpose that engages the hearts and minds of your customers. It’s finding what makes your business compelling and making that message loud and clear. For those looking to stand out in the competitive world of e-commerce, branding has never been more important. If you’re looking for ways to increase your sales in 2017, learn how to build a brand that feels real.

Check out our recent post for actionable tips on how to use digital marketing to promote your brand.

Become a great storyteller

Stories are powerful tools of persuasion, both in life and in consumerism. If done right, they are one of the most effective marketing techniques at your disposal, since our human brains are wired to respond to stories. Today’s shoppers are uninspired by boring brands without hint of personality. Stories not only give you some texture, they also help to build trust – the cornerstone of successful sales. Rather than straight advertising, stories help us to view events from the context of our own values and experiences.

Ask yourself why your brand exists – what purpose it is here to serve and how it came about. Contained in your answer is your first story. We can all relate to the tale of a great adventure, whether personal, professional or social. Keep your stories clear and simple, told in a tone of voice that works for the personality of your company.

A good example of a brand that tells great brand stories is BeardBrand: seller of beard care products such as oils and grooming kits. Through his blog and YouTube channel, founder Eric Bandholz provides regular content to his customers around beard care and maintenance, positioning himself as an authority in the process.

Maintain consistency

A great brand is recognizable, and to be recognizable, you must be consistent. Both in life and in business, consistency is a strong indicator of trust. As your customers get to know you better, they will come to expect certain behavior from your business, based on their experiences with you up until this point. Brand consistency applies not just to how everything looks, but also to how you do business – from customer service to order fulfillment.

When your brand is born, consider what values you will attach to it. What will you commit to providing for your customers, and how do you want them to perceive you? Once you’ve formed and communicated this company image, make sure you stick to it. Brands often reinvent themselves, much to the confusion of their customers. Sometimes it is necessary to revamp a tired company image. But try to do so in a way that doesn’t shake up all the good things that your customers associate with you so far.

Build out your network

Really successful e-commerce stores understand the power behind good content marketing. Useful, interesting and effective content does the hard work for you – and in turn, it positions you as a credible industry authority. And the best thing about all this? Through social media and relationship building, your content can be used to help you build links – an important part of boosting SEO.

Social media is your best friend when it comes to content marketing and forming new relationships with bloggers and other website owners. Contact them via social media and email to find out about collaboration opportunities. It’s a good idea to try and build up a rapport, as influencers and editors tend to prefer working with people they know.

Once you see a website you like that you’d want to write for or be featured on, check their guidelines to see whether they have accepted guest posts or product adverts in the past. Be sure to do the same for them, and make a lot of noise on social media when your links are published.

Build community through customer feedback

Create a community around your products

This is one of the best ways to generate repeat custom – and as any good store owner knows, repeat customers are the lifeblood of your e-commerce business. Generating a community around your products not only encourages your customers to come back, it also helps to create a positive attitude around what your brand has to offer. But it must be fully embraced.

To succeed at building a brand community you must be willing to be present – listening to your customers and reaching out to them for their feedback. Your updates and stories must be interesting and regular: not just straight advertisements for your products. Giving your customers a platform to share their views and interact with one another – perhaps sharing images of the product or service in action – will increase engagement and also provide you with a nice amount of user-generated content.

Speak directly to your users

Selling is all about language and using the right language to motivate your website visitors into action. If your potential customers aren’t feeling excited by what they see or read, then naturally they are less likely to spend money with you. So consider what they are really looking for from this transaction. If you sell green tea, then what your customers are really looking for might be better health and more variety. Or if you sell software, then what are the benefits? What does the customer really want from the transaction? What is their end goal? There will always be one.

Build your online store

The e-commerce brand Shopify knows that its customers’ motivation is to start their own online businesses. The language used on its build an online store page – phrases such as ‘everything you need’, ‘measurable results,’ and ‘make it your own’ – put the focus on the customer and what they hope to gain from using the service. The word ‘you’ is used frequently and encourages the user to imagine themselves using the service and take action – far more so than if you were to rattle on about the service non-stop. It’s all about identifying with your customers’ dreams, and clearly showing them the connection between buying your product or service and achieving that dream.

For further information on branding, consider reading our Brand Authority eBook, which will provide answers to all of your burning questions.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that your website visitors are individuals, and not a faceless mob. If you were interested in making a purchase online, what would you hope to see and how would you want to be treated? A brand that resonates cannot be faked – to be genuine necessitates transparency. Tell compelling stories and look to build a consistent and responsive image that gets your customers excited to shop with you. Which of these elements is your online store missing?

Patrick Foster, E-commerce Enthusiast and Entrepreneur

I’m a freelance e-commerce expert & serial entrepreneur. I love to write articles on e-commerce branding and content marketing for ambitious online sellers, and hope to share some useful insight that will help to grow your business. Check out my website.